Declaration of Major Day. February 3, 2015.
The rumors are true; sophomore year winter is a particularly stressful (albeit exciting) time for K students. Soon after the study abroad and study away application deadlines, we are faced with decisions about possible majors, minors, and concentrations. Certainly, some students arrive their freshman year with an unwavering idea of what their undergraduate career will look like and how it will translate to the profession they desire. Others experiment with classes and have discovered their passion by February 3rd. I,on the other hand, spent the night of the 2nd flipping coins, vacillating between two alluring options.
When I walked into Hicks banquet hall, abuzz with the excited chattering of recently declared sophomores, the whole thing seemed somehow less intimidating. Stand in line, sign your name on a few sheets of paper, have a slice of cake, and proudly don the little orange stickers announcing your area(s) of study. I declared a major in chemistry and a minor in psychology, consistent with the pre-medical track I had been following. I suppose I was relieved at having finally made a decision, but as soon as the pictures of fellow classmates popped up all over Facebook, a sense of regret pervaded my thoughts.
Social media flooded with excited students who had declared things like English; art; anthropology and sociology; philosophy; and women, gender & sexuality – intriguing topics into which I was hardly able to delve because of the relatively rigid science track I have been following. Why didn’t I want to tell everyone about my major? Where was my unbridled enthusiasm following Declaration of Major Day? On February 4th I had practically made up my mind about changing majors, dropping my “plan” of going to medical school, and switching to psychology, even entertaining the thought of an English or studio art minor.
After all the thought that went into the decision to declare a major, all it took was the simple act of declaring to show me where my heart was set. I talked to my advisor the following week, and it turns out all I’ll need to do is fill out a simple form, obtain a few signatures, and bring it to the registrar. The takeaway? Majors, minors, and concentrations do not have to be permanent and they do not have to be binding. As my academic advisor wisely noted, it seems like a big deal at the time (and it is certainly an important decision) but years down the road, your choice of major won’t mean nearly as much as it does now. Freely pursue what interests you. If you haven’t yet found a favorite field, don’t worry too much about the major you choose; it’s not worth the stress.